But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” (1 Chronicles 21:24)
Relate: I realized yesterday that all three of my pairs of jeans were now over a year old. One of them I have had since long before I moved to Turkey over three years ago, it had an ink blot on the left pocket, and it was frayed at the feet. Time for it to go. So I went down to the little mall here in Iskendurun and did some clothes shopping. I hate clothes shopping but it is one of those things you have to do at least once or twice a year. I went into H&M and came out about ten minutes later with two new T-shirts, a new pair of jeans, and a seven-pack of white socks. I will probably have to buy another new shirt or two and a pair of nicer pants when school is about to start but why ruin a good vacation worrying about that now?
Since the jeans were half off the price for everything worked out to be 116TL. That is less than $25 US. My mom would be proud. In ether currency, it is a pretty good deal. Let’s put aside the fact I will spend about the same amount total in my daily trips to Starbucks over the next two weeks. I will also probably spend about that amount over the next 4-5 days on food. If I ate out less often I could stretch that much further, but I am on my summer holiday. There’s no point in guilt tripping myself. Except when I think of this…
In my home city of Gaziantep, there are about half a million Syrian refugees (more than all of Europe and America combined). A very large portion of those outside the horribly inhumane camps are not making anything close to a livable wage. Many must resort to selling roses, pens, tissues, water, etc, and they also are living with multiple families in one small apartment. It is a common sight to see kids often as young as four or five looking real sad rubbing their bellies with one hand while the other is extended in the hopes of a lira or two. I am easy to spot as a yabanci (foreigner) and so one quick stroll through the park will make me look like the pied piper as they trail behind me with hands outstretched. I wish I could do more to help all of them and any loose change I do have goes into their desperate hands but their need is just too great and my income too small. Every now and then I will change some money into US quarters to hand out instead. Even though they are barely more than a lira each, I love to watch their eyes bug out when they see “American” money.
React: That change is just the tip of the iceberg for what I can and am doing to help those few I can. Much more often money I am spending ends up turning into food for families, or school supplies for schools like the one I wish I were still able to work at. But the time and the money I am investing towards this cause so much bigger than I am is no sacrifice. I have been given so much, it is the least I can do to give what I can by paying it forward. That is all too often the case with the things we do and the gifts we give to God. Every gift and every noble act we do in God’s name is good but rarely are they truly a sacrifice. They are merely the easing of our conscience. I have spent more at Starbucks already in July than I have to ease the suffering of those God has called me to reach over that same stretch. Sacrifices of spare change and time will not prevent plagues. If we truly want to present an offering that will save a nation, we need to go all in. Are we willing? Am I? Are you? How much will it cost?
Thank You so much for the many, many ways You have blessed me. Thank You for gifting me with the ability to be a blessing to others. But God, I don’t want to stop there. Give me such a deep love for You and passion for Your world that I would give till it hurts. Then help me to give even more. In my sacrifice to You, let the answer to the question, “How much does it cost” always be “everything”. I am not there yet, God, but help me to continue moving in that direction. I want to want to give you my all.